Jacksonville family of 6 rescued after pontoon boat begins sinking

Boat got caught in fast-moving storms that swept through Marathon, deputies say

By Amanda Batchelor - Senior Digital Editor, Frank Powers - Assignment manager
Monroe County Sheriff's Office

MONROE COUNTY, Fla. - A family of six from Jacksonville was rescued Monday morning about 3 miles south of the Seven Mile Bridge in the Florida Keys after its pontoon boat began sinking, the Monroe County Sheriff's Office said. 

According to Sheriff's Office spokesman Adam Linhardt, the boat became swamped by waves and got caught in the fast-moving storms that swept through Marathon, WPLG-TV reports.

Linhardt said the boaters called the Sheriff’s Office at 11:08 a.m., and Marine Deputy Wilfredo Guerra found the sinking boat and all six people near the Sombrero Key Light. 

LISTEN: Uncut audio of sinking pontoon boat 911 call

In the audio of the 911 call obtained by News4Jax, the father is briefly on the phone with dispatch, and says, "We are sinking right now.”

Then the wife is on the phone for the remainder of the call. She tells dispatch that a storm came up, they lost power and the boat is sinking. In the call, the wife says she can see Seven Mile Bridge and cars going across it. During the call, she gets emotional and begs them to please send someone. 

“We’re about to go under!” she tells the 911 dispatcher.

She reports the two adults and four children all have life jackets. She then tells dispatch that a good Samaritan in a boat is trying to assist them and one person got on the rescue boat.

"Please help us," the wife screams repeatedly before dispatch tells her that a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission boat is responding.

The four adults and two children were taken to the Sunset Grille & Raw Bar, and the pontoon boat was recovered by Sea Tow. 

No injuries were reported. 

The FWC is investigating the incident.   

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